FRANKLIN, Ind. – The Franklin College baseball team returned home for a pair of games at John P. McDowell Field on Wednesday (Mar. 20) afternoon, taking on MacMurray College in their final tune-up before 10 straight games away from home.
Fueled by a pair of strong performances by pitchers making their first career starts and a relentless offense, the Grizzlies (7-3) will hit the road with some momentum after sweeping the Highlanders (2-8) by scores of 12-3 and 15-3.
Game One: Franklin 12 – MacMurray 3
Ryan Bixler put the Grizzlies in front just two batters into the bottom of the first inning, singling Quenton Wellington home. The Highlanders evened the game up in the second, but Franklin would re-take the lead in the third when Sam Claycamp led off the inning with his first home run of the year.
Once again, MacMurray would counter with a run in the fourth, but the Grizzlies would get it right back with two outs in their half of the inning on a perfectly executed double steal with Wellington swiping second and Brandt Pawley coming in to score to make it a 3-2 game.
Franklin would put the game out of reach in the bottom of the sixth, getting a two-run single from Pawley, a long two-run home run from Bixler and Matt Olovich driving in a run when he got hit with the bags full to make it an 8-2 game. One inning later, Olovich and Claycamp brought home their second runs of the game and Franklin would tack on a pair of runs on errors to take a 12-2 advantage.
Making his first career start, sophomore Mitch Merica (1-0) scattered 10 hits and allowed two earned runs while striking out six over six innings of work. Jacob Heuchan and Tanner Nicholson allowed a combined three hits over the final three innings on the mound.
Game Two: Franklin 15 – MacMurray 3 (7 inn.)
Pawley opened the scoring in game two, brining in a run in the bottom of the second with a fielder's choice. It proved to be just the start of an offensive explosion in game two, as Franklin would follow up with a nine-run third inning.
Drew Naumovich became the third Grizzly to go deep on the day, when he belted a three-run shot over the right field wall to make it a 4-0 game. Later in the inning, Jacob Bryant would bring in a run with a sacrifice fly and Adam Hedinger would follow with an RBI double to extend the lead to six. Franklin would bring in two following a Highlander error before Naumovich and Alex Mis closed out the inning with back-to-back RBI singles.
Franklin would add three more runs in the fourth and two in the fifth to complete their end of the scoring. The game was called after the top of the seventh inning due to rainfall, darkness and deteriorating field conditions.
Senior Ethan Adams (2-0) took the ball to start the game and silenced Highlander bats over six innings. The North Vernon, Ind.-native needed just 81 pitches to get through six frames, scattering four hits while allowing one run with one walk and a pair of strikeouts. Sophomores Chris Foote and Alex Reinoehl teamed up to complete the seventh.
Franklin will hop on a bus and head south for their annual spring break trip to Florida. The Grizzlies open their stint in the sunshine state on Saturday (Mar. 23), taking on Elmhurst College in Winter Haven, Fla. At 4:00 p.m.